Thinkering Studio - Maker Ed - Genius Hour

Thinkering Studio
Learning about , yourself, learning, etc.
Time Frame:
1 day/class a week (think 3M, Bell Labs, Google's 20% time, Apple's Blue Sky program, etc.)
1 month/project - BCS does a roughly 2 month version of this during the Re:Make project in 7th/8th Engage
1 year (elective) - BCS does this. Students meet twice a week for 60 minutes each time (7th and 8th grade) or 45 minutes each time (5th and 6th). Some students take the elective for all 4 years.
Thinkering Studio is a collaborative space/time/studio/project/class for students to:
  • explore topics or technologies of interest, at their pace, and in directions of their choosing
  • collaborate informally and formally, in person and electronically, synchronously and asynchronously
  • reflect on their creations, processes, successes, difficulties, and learning
  • keep a multimodal journal and portfolio
  • create footsteps, examples, resources, or other artifacts for themselves & others who might follow
  • integrate technology
  1. Teacher presents an overview of Thinkering Studio - Thinkering Studio is ... or Thinkering Studio Is slideshow
  2. Teacher presents a variety of past projects that hit a variety of topics, tools, depth, etc.
  3. Think-Pair-Share - Students brainstorm topics, technologies, questions, projects, resources, etc. that they enjoy, want to explore, or are curious about inside or outside of school
  4. Add brainstormed topics to an overall list of project ideas on class wiki
  5. Students pick a first topic/project
  6. Students create and present a project proposal
  7. Students just do it, have fun, reflect as they go, make changes
  8. Students complete weekly journals (including plans, effort & achievement, and reflections)
  9. Students complete bi-weekly peer critiques
  10. Students complete project pages (or similar project resource such as a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, Instructable, etc.)
  11. Students curate a (at least quarterly) portfolio
  12. Class discussions (bring up as the fit arises throughout the project/course/year)
    • When have you discovered for yourself or taught yourself something? (Inside or outside of school)
    • How is learning how to play soccer, play an instrument, learn English, learn a language at school, write a story, etc. similar/different?
    • What are some general strategies to learn something? Which do you seem to prefer? What are some things that make it harder to learn? How do different technologies help/hinder your learning?
    • Can anyone else actually teach you anything? "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think." Socrates
    • What is failure? How can failure be beneficial? How do you overcome failures?
      • Are there levels of failure?
      • What is a smart failure?
      • If you achieve an "Epic Fail," have you learned more than most people who easily succeed or succeed by following a "recipe"?
    • What counts as success?
      • What counts as an "epic" win?
      • How can success be detrimental?
    • What counts as creativity? Innovation?
    • How do you know when to stop/give up on a project? What is grit? Perseverance? (see habit 1)
  13. Mini Lessons (bring up as the fit arises throughout the project/course/year)
    • Wiki Skills: joining wiki; creating Journal & Portfolio pages; tagging pages; creating proposal pages; creating project pages; proper naming of files
    • Writing a proposal
    • Journal - Self scoring with Marzano's Effort and Achievement Rubric
    • Journal - Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals
    • Journal - using the documentation and reflection prompts for reflection ideas
      • Self-evaluation of reflections using Reflection Rubric
        • Typing (1,2, or 3) reflections
        • Highlighting CERS
    • Portfolio - Curating a learning portfolio
    • Leading a peer critique session or student ‍‍‍‍‍exhibition (this is one example of formal horizontal sharing)‍‍‍‍‍
    • Technology Skills
      • Photography skills (for documenting work or showcasing projects)
      • Audio recording skills (optional tool for reflections and documenting work)
      • Video recording skills (for documenting work or showcasing projects)
    • Examing general processes
    • Differentiating between consumption and production?
  14. Biweekly Teacher Meeting - Teacher meets with each student individually every other week for a 5 minute check in on their current project/topic, journal, portfolio, etc. Alternatively, teacher could listen in to a peer critique session.
  • Student Dispositions
    • Engagement
    • Curious
    • Self-directed
    • Reflective
    • Empathetic
    • Persevering
  • Student Skills
    • Setting goals
    • Planning/Scheduling/Budgeting Time
    • Self-management
    • Problem solving
    • Documenting
    • Self-assessment
  • Teachers
    • Develop question asking skills and nurturing skills to help students find projects that are meaningful to them and that will push them
    • Running conference sessions
    • Running critique sessions
    • Finding resources (techniques, sites, people, etc.) for students as they run into walls
    • Negotiating project proposals
  1. Should this be assessed? Or, is it counter productive? Would it be best if the students only use the rubrics to self-evaluate?
  2. If grading, should process receive a higher weighting than the final product?
  3. Who should evaluate the project, the student(s), their peers, the teacher, or a wider audience?
  4. Thinkering Studio Rubric - Used for project goal setting
  5. Exhibitions - Read Littky's Chapter 8 in The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business
  6. Effort and Achievement Rubric
  7. Reflection Rubric
  8. Thinkering Studio - Portfolio Rubric
  9. Thinkering Studio - Critique Rubric
  • Links to teacher or student examples.
  • How does discovery learning compare to guided/enhanced discovery learning and direct instruction?
  • What techniques, resources, etc. can maximize the capacity for discovery learning?
    • What affect can a partner (face-to-face or via internet) have? Or a small group?
    • Is it still discovery learning if a student finds a tutorial or other similar resource on the internet to follow/learn from?
  • How do you balance exploration/experimentation/FAILure with working towards becoming a crafts"man" or enGauge's goal of high productivity?